As we’ve continued to follow the mystery surrounding the Buccaneers choice for a starting quarterback on Sunday, we guessed that Wednesday’s practice reps would give us a clue into which way the team was leaning. And it looks like that just happened.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport hears that Ryan Fitzpatrick (and not Jameis Winston) took a lion’s share of the first-team practice reps today.
“From what I was told, based on the snaps, it seemed as if Fitz would be the starter,” Rapoport said. “It sounded like he got the majority – more than 50 percent of the snaps – more than Jameis Winston. So at the least, they’re preparing Fitz start.”
You can check out Rapoport’s one-minute video report here:
From Up to the Minute Live: The #Bucs are in wait-and-see mode on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who I'm told took the majority of the snaps today. One person described it as the snaps a starter would take. pic.twitter.com/Uwlqgn1ZLC
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 26, 2018
Tampa Bay’s brewing quarterback controversy is an additional challenge for a Bears defense that prepares to face an offense that ranks first in yards and third in points.
Fitzpatrick leads league in passing yards and has engineered a 2-1 start for the Buccaneers in the face of a season-starting stretch of opponents that features three playoff teams (including the defending Super Bowl champions). Winston is generally regarded as the face of the franchise, despite his off-the-field transgressions – the latest of which caused him to miss the first three games of this season. The Buccaneers chose Winston with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and he’s obviously immensely talented, but his inability to keep his nose out of trouble has opened up a scenario wherein he could be riding the bench upon his return from suspension.
As for divvying up of the practice reps, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Bucs would give less than half of the first team reps to its starter, right? But I guess Winston might not need all the reps considering his knowledge of a system he has been in since his rookie season.
No matter who is under center or in shotgun formation for Tampa Bay on Sunday, the Bears know they have a world of talent they’ll need to contain if they want to improve to 3-1 on the season.